David Farrer was a publisher whose previous jobs included a stint as private tutor to the heir presumptive of the Maharajah of Gwalior and wartime private secretary to Lord Beaverbrook.

While in India, Farrer claimed he went to work on an elephant. On his return to England he became a student of the horses and regularly bet on them - in much the same way as he bet on authors after joining Secker and Warburg. He was an old-school publisher and the author Margaret Forster recalled being invited to his office for the briefest of discussions about her manuscript before being ushered out for a long and bibulous lunch. When in the office, he dealt with authors such as George Orwell, Malcolm Bradbury, John Banville and Christy Brown.